Notes from The Underground

Presented without comment or context, my Notes page (offline Twitter drafts) from my recent trip to England:

It’s raining and I’m wearing my giant Lanvin sunglasses.

I. Love. Pubs.

“He couldn’t pull weeds, mate”

I’ve been in Shoreditch 20 minutes and I’m already obsessed.

Make tea not war.

Kings cross station: someone starts playing a song from Amelie on a street piano. I might be crying. I definitely have goosebumps.

Just fell utterly in love with the street musician at the Tottingham Court tube station. He’s singing Rihanna.

I find underground wind both strange and wonderful

“They have illegal fixie races in Oxford.”

“This door is older than your country.”

Espresso macchiato & sparkling water… Don’t mind if I do!

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Image“[T.S.] Eliot began to wonder if there was any room for art in a world gone mad. How could a responsible Christian devote time to poetry or fiction?” Philip Yancy (I Was Just Wondering, 130)

I grew up wondering why secular music was so much cooler than the Christian stuff. I couldn’t figure out why the Red Hot Chili Peppers were so good and Deleriou5 was just ok. (Don’t judge, it was the 90’s.) I thought, if we’re so connected to The Creator, why don’t we make better music?

As I got older I saw this in other mediums, too. Classical religious art notwithstanding, Christian art always seems to fall short. As Christians, shouldn’t we be more plugged into The Creator? Shouldn’t my faith make me a better artist?

According to Philip Yancy, T.S. Eliot was driven to conversion over anxiety over the future. Many complained that his conversion ruined his writing, that it “lacked the depth and genius of [his] early works”. (Yancy,130) He accepted writing assignments from the church, wrote captions for war photos, and for awhile turned totally away from writing to work in economics.

“He had apparently lost faith in the power of art.” (Yancy, 131)

What Christian believes in the power of art? Not many. We believe in being useful, in helping, in spreading the Gospel, feeding the hungry, being contributing members of society. (Whether we do it is another story.) But what worthwhile Christian holes up in a studio writing poetry, sculpting, painting, or composing photos?

When I got home from Haiti I was all rip-roarin’ to go save the world, and I am so glad God stopped me in my tracks. In that time I forgot the power of art, and in my recovery from the issues that spawned from my time in that devastated land I learned the healing power of art.

So I am going to say it: I am an artist. It is a gift from God and I should not hide it under a bushel, as they say. The more immersed in art I get in school, the happier and more myself I feel. And you know, we’re one body with many parts. We’ve all grown up hearing that, but suddenly it makes so much more sense to me. I can’t be everything, and I shouldn’t be.

So here’s to being as good as, if not better than, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Life Goal

I had to write this for school today so I thought I would share….

LIFE GOAL- When your life is over what do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered as someone who lived life to the fullest. Someone who saw the world and fell in love with it. Someone who saw the world her own way and was able to convey the beauty and the excitement she saw with her lens.

I want to be remembered as a loving mother, a fun and thoughtful wife and the greatest travel companion one has ever had.

I want to be remembered as a dear friend or a random stranger whose door was always open and who connected people with new friends and exciting opportunities all over the world.

I want to be remembered as someone who changed lives and made the world a better place.

On Recovering From Short Term Missions

Who takes care of the missionaries? What happens when they come home ruined?

I’ve always imagined deep down inside of me was this tall, cool, still glass of water on a table. It’s full and it’s very, very still. Things happen all around. I am up and I am down, there are good times and bad, questions and answers… but always the glass is still.

When my life all fell apart in Los Angeles two years ago my heart died. My dreams broke. But still the glass remained. Still and calm. While I roamed the country I could still see it deep down in there somehow- it was hard to reach, a struggle to find, but I knew it was there.

But what happens when you dump your cup out? What if you pour it all out for Jesus. For His people… and it stays empty?

In my experience with serving and missions and the developing world is that when you pour out you are also refilled. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) And even though those experiences are difficult and trying- they often produce some kind of spiritual mountain top experience. It is good to serve the Lord and to be where He calls.

Or like my time in China. It was really, really hard and it felt like a waste- but still I felt God’s cover over me. When we were in danger I felt the Lords protection over my body and my mind. I had no effects of trauma at all, and in the end I felt like I learned a lot about leadership and submission.

But what about Haiti? I know God used me there. I have no doubts at all the peoples lives are different- better- because I was obedient to the call. I know God called me there and I know that I was supposed to go and I know that, on several occasions, God protected me from serious harm.

Usually when you go on a short term mission trip (anything under a year is considered short term) you come home, decompress, make some life changes (maybe) and keep moving. I am stuck. I’ve been back for months and I am still stuck. Not just, ‘I want to go back and I miss my friends’ stuck (though there is that, too) but I still feel like I just got beaten with a baseball bat stuck.

I feel like what I saw in Haiti- not one single experience, but it all as a whole- really confused my perception of God. Why do people have to suffer so so much? For the first time (maybe ever) I feel like I poured my cup out and it’s still empty. That tall, cool, still glass of water is parched and dry. The glass is cracked and dirty.

So who takes care of the strong ones? Who takes care of the missionaries? And what are we supposed to be doing with ourselves? I can’t just keep on living like nothing happened, but I don’t have the strength or the resources to really help or change anything. (I have ideas and half-formed plans to make changes in Haiti, but I don’t even know how to start.)

Note: I am generally opposed to really, like, ’emo’ or TMI type blog posts, and I hope this doesn’t come off as such. I feel like I am really struggling with some stuff and I really don’t intend for these questions to be rhetorical. Since my time in Haiti was so public, it seems fitting for the recovery to be, too. I can’t possibly be the only person home from the mission field wondering how God can allow such human suffering and I think it’s good for us to think about and talk about these things.

Coffee: Coava Coffee Portland

Admittedly, I am an overzealous coffee drinker. I drink between 6 and 9 shots of espresso per shift at work and I can’t stop blogging/tumbling/tweeting about the delicious coffee I get to drink.

I have no intention of stopping.

So I am in Portland and the one and only thing I really wanted to do while I was here was go to Coava Coffee. I went last time I was here (but never got around to blogging it- oops!) and loved it. Friends of friends run the place and I was recently informed that one of their baristas, Sam Purvis, won the Northwest Regional Barista Competition. Having witnessed a day of the Southwest competition I know that is a big deal. Fingers crossed he would be working! I was just dying for a cappuccino at the SW competition last weekend and here was my chance to get a campion cappuccino!

What luck! He was working! And to be honest, I felt a little starstruck! This guy won the competition in (what I imagine is) the toughest region in the country. Best Barista in the Northwest! Amazing! I decided to go for the gold and get two drinks like I did at Intelligentsia last week. A cappuccino for here and a latte to go. I got their Costa Rican espresso in the cappuccino and the Honduran in the latte. A good choice, I think.

Everything about my cappuccino was just right. It was perfect and creamy, the espresso was rich and smooth and not too vegetal… and, as always, didn’t last nearly long enough. The latte was sweeter and the espresso even mellower- in a good way. It just tasted like perfection. The milk was steamed right to the sweet spot and the proportion of milk to espresso was spot on.

I was so into my coffee I hardly noticed my surroundings. Although, I do wish Coava had more seating. It’s a pretty big, open space but it feels awkward when there is nowhere to sit. Trevor and I ended up standing and drinking our cappuccinos near the bar- it was fine, but I think it would have been weird of I had been alone. I rank quality of the coffee far above the feel of a space, so if I lived in Portland I would make Coava a regular hang out, but it’s not hard to see why some people wouldn’t.

In conclusion: I hope we go back tomorrow! (And also, this is not the last time you will hear about this cappuccino.)

This last photo is from my visit in January- I really love this image and couldn’t bear to leave it out!

How He Loves…

I had been home from Haiti only a couple weeks. I was stage left waiting to go up and share about my experience with the congregation. Everything was fresh. Raw. I didn’t know where I was or where it would take me, but I knew I was deep. Deep in the inexpressible.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree

The opening lines. I had heard this song before, but I couldn’t make a connection.

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

It was dark and the lights were bright. I was wearing a teal sweater and my senses were overwhelmed. I was in another world far, far away from the tents in Haiti.

When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And suddenly I am tapped in. I am feeling. I don’t know what I am feeling or where it is going to take me, but it’s cathartic. I’m getting it out.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

It’s like this song is a key to what’s locked inside. I don’t know how to get to it. I still don’t know what all I am dealing with since Haiti. I am still a mess about it all. It’s been several months now, and it still feels fresh. I still can’t reconsile the things I saw there. The places I went. The people I met. They are still there. They are still hurting and hungry and dying. But He loves us?

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

And every time this song plays I am back in the dark wearing my teal cardigan. I am fresh off the mission field and I am as lost as ever. Somewhere there is grace and mercy and all I can do is sink in it. Let it wash over me. Find the place of trust and know that God knows what He is doing. And let it out.

So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way that He loves us

I feel this. My heart is violent. Life doesn’t make sense. I live in a mansion (practically), I have too much to eat and two sources of income… my friends in Haiti are starving and live in tents (and I use the term very loosely). But. When I think about how He loves us and what really matters in the scheme of things… it really is true. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us. US. All of us. The Haitians. He died for them. He loves Marjolene and Jhonnyka more than I ever can.

That’s the thing to do, then. The prize to keep my eyes fixed on: how He loves us.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.       2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And with that I leave you. Mull that over and let’s get this Lent season rolling.

 

Coffee: Intelligentsia Pasadena

Little in this world brings me more pleasure and joy than a delicious, well crafted cappuccino.

A perfectly crafted cappuccino is what I always expect and what consistently delights me at Intelligentisa.

Everyone knows Intelligentsia is my favorite. It’s everyone’s favorite. I lived around the corner from the shop in Silverlake (but was too poor to go as often as I’d have liked) and I make a point of stopping at the Venice Beach shop any time I am within a 50 mile radius. The Pasadena store is the newest one- I’ve heard from a few different people that it’s the best one… I don’t know that I would argue that point.

Each store has a distinct personality. The tile floor of the Silverlake shop is the coolest thing in the world, but the baristas are decidedly unfriendly. There are often celebrities hanging about and always a surplus of bearded hipsters.

The crowd at the Venice store is just as hip, though a little more laid back. The decor is radically different and I’ve had much friendlier service there. I’m a little partial to the Venice store because that’s where the instructional videos are filmed.

But enough about the other stores. This is a blog about my experience at the Pasadena shop.

(First, I need to confess. I am totally uncool. I bought a t-shirt.)

The only parking spot I could find was a 15 minute spot around the corner. I had to force myself to be cool and not stress about the time. It really only takes four or five minutes (if that) to really savor a cappuccino. Much more than that and the last sip will be cold.

The line was a little slow (good things take time) and the shop was packed (4:30pm on a Sunday). I ordered a cappiccino for here and an iced latte to go (for the road. I’m a glutton. Don’t judge, it was a long drive).  A handsome man made me delicious beverages and I found a seat to sit and enjoy my perfectly crafted cappuccino.

The first sip kicked me in the mouth a little. I considered adding some sweetener- then chastised myself for ever dreaming of doing such a thing. The second sip was sweeter and more delicious. By the third sip I was really in the zone. I decided that I would marry any man who took me on a date to get perfect cappuccinos. (Hey, we all make bad plans when we’re under the influence!)

I knew not to expect anything less than perfection from Intelligentsia and they didn’t let me down! (My latte was the bomb, too.)

The crowd at the Pasadena store is decidedly more “normal”- people on dates (presumably), people studying, people taking a break from shopping. This store is less intimidating than the other two- there is no one staring at you as you walk in judging you by your tattoos (or lack thereof).

In conclusion: Go there.

The saddest part.